Registered Tax Preparers: Review Your CPE Requirements for 2015

2015 IRS Practitioner Database

In January, the IRS plans to launch a new Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications on the IRS website to help taxpayers verify credentials and qualifications of tax professionals.

The Directory will be a searchable, sortable database with the name, city, state and zip code of credentialed return preparers as well as those who have completed the requirements for the new IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) which includes having a valid 2015 Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

Annual Filing Season Program

This new program aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism. Meet the requirements by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education, including a six hour federal tax law refresher course with test, and you will receive an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion from the IRS.

AFSP participants will also be included in a public database of return preparers scheduled to launch on the IRS website by January 2015. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications will include the name, city, state, zip code, and credentials of all attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid PTIN, as well as all AFSP – Record of Completion holders.

Review the general requirements for the AFSP – Record of Completion

I passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test! What about me?

Anyone who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer test offered between November 2011 and January 2013 only needs to meet his or her original 15-hour continuing education requirement each year to obtain an AFSP – Record of Completion. Those who passed the RTRP test and certain other recognized national and state tests are exempt from the six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.

Review the reduced requirements for exempt individuals for the AFSP – Record of Completion

The new program is starting in the middle of a year. Is the CE requirement prorated?

Yes. See the chart below for a summary of the program requirements for the first year vs. future years:

Do I have to get an Annual Filing Season Program – Record of Completion?

No, it's voluntary. Anyone with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) can prepare tax returns for compensation, but continuing education is encouraged for all tax return preparers.

What are the benefits of getting an AFSP – Record of Completion?

In addition to being included in the new public directory of tax return preparers launching in 2015, the AFSP – Record of Completion differentiates you in the marketplace. The IRS intends to launch a public education campaign in 2015 encouraging taxpayers to select return preparers carefully and seek those with professional credentials or other select qualifications.

Also, beginning in 2016, there will be changes to the representation rights of return preparers.

Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

AFSP participants will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.

CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

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